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Entercom Inks Deal for RDS-Based Service

Entercom Inks Deal for RDS-Based Service

Is RDS about to make a resurgence?
Long-time radio watchers could be excused for being skeptical. But a company called The Radio Experience, based in Seattle, is a believer; and now it has received a purchase order from Entercom Communications to equip 54 FM stations with its Dynamic Data Initiative technology by mid-summer.
The concept actually has been in development for a decade. According to the supplier, “The DDI system traces its beginnings back to the 1990s where company founder and President Allen Hartle first enabled wireless messaging to giant electronic billboard displays via Radio Data System subcarrier using the RDS Encoder FMB10 from Audemat/Aztec Inc.
“Through these early data transmissions and 10 years of evolutionary product development, DDI is now ready for prime time,” it continued.
DDI technology lets each station transmit listener-related data services along with the audio to RDS, HD Radio, Internet services and outdoor displays.
Receivers, Hartle says, are out there in the hundreds of thousands. RDS radios have been “quietly arriving by the truckloads as standard equipment on cars that executives purchased, leased or rented. It was only a matter of time before they were given a quality ‘demo.’ … We’ve already begun RadioText data services for now-playing messages and station or sponsor promos.”
He pointed to media such as Internet streaming and satellite radio as competitive factors pushing broadcasters to improve their own service.
Entercom has been testing DDI in two markets. Marty Hadfield, its VP of engineering, said one processor can multiplex five of Entercom’s FM studio data streams over a low-bit-rate STL data channel and restore them as individual data streams at the transmitter site.
Hartle said although the system is “principally an RDS initiative,” its engineering also accommodates HD Radio support.
To promote the service, The Radio Experience is offering broadcasters a “no-risk trial program.”